Distorted Perception

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” – Wayne W. Dyer

Brown eyes peered back at me through the smooth, flawless glass. They scrutinized every detail; the bags under my eyes, the lack of round cheeks, the non-existence neck and tummy rolls. They held the truth within them. You’re too skinny! I turn away from the mirror to enter my bathroom, and stepped on the scale, bouncing up and down a few times for good measure. 121 pounds. I stood next to the notches on the doorframe and found the top of my head lining up with the numbers 5’5. Nothing has changed.

I know what they call me at school. “Stick” was the name stuck to me since I was in grade school. I remember how at lunch, the girls would give snide looks and haughty smiles as they peer at the figure I so desperately hide under a baggy grey hoodie, how the boys would rank, in whispers, the hottest to least hot girls in the grade. I would always be last. Because no matter how hard I try to hide it, they already know I don’t have the triple E’s that all the other girls do. They know that I have a hard, flat stomach devoid of a single roll. They know that I don’t have the curves, or those “child-bearing” hips.

The face of the nameless Cover Girl on my bed was almost mocking as I turned to meet her eye. The rosy cheeks, the fully-puckered apple red lips, the small, beady painted eyes set on a smooth, yet rotund fair-skinned visage. The perfect offset to my tanned skin, dull and interesting lips, hooded eyes set on a long, bony face. After wistfully sighing at the image, I reach down under my bed to grab the crinkling tin foil that held the solution to my problem. I unwrapped each piece of the creamy, chocolatey goodness with reverence and stuffed a handful in my mouth. Then another. Then another. My throat started to burn. I kept one stuffing more down. The pain increased. More. My fingers started to curl into my hands. More. I start to dry heave. I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran to the bathroom with the slamming the door shut as I barged in. All the gooey, sugary goodness came out the same way they came in. The water in the toilet turned an unappetizing shade of brown and yellow before being swept away in a spiral. There went all my hard work for the day.

Every single time this happens, cleaning up is the worst part. Not only does the pungent smell of acid and expelled, partially digested bile invade my nose and kills my appetite for the rest of the entire day, those same brown eyes in the mirror mock me every step of the way. You can never be like them, they seem to say. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be fat. I try to ignore them, but somehow, it never works. The rhythm of washing my hands, then my mouth, then scrubbing my hands with soap and rinsing has become so ingrained into me that I could perform these actions in my sleep. They only further serve as a reminder of how many trials and failures I have gone through.

As I exit the washroom, my eyes meet those of my brother, and we share a look of mutual understanding. I know about his nightly binges on his stash of fries and chips in his closet, and his weekly midnight feasts on the snacks in the pantry. I also know about his tacit conversations with the man in the mirror, the one who offers nothing but criticism for his shape. I also know about his inability to hold all the food he eats down. No matter how much he eats, our family genetics just spits all the excess needed for him to get fat back out. Slim, with a hard chest, toned triceps, bulging triceps, strong, sinewy legs and well-defined torso, he puts up with daily ridicule at school for his lack of a plump, round figure. Maybe in some alternate universe, we would be the norm, the idealized figures. But here, we’re nobodies – you’re nothing if you’re not fat.

If I had one wish, I would wish for both my brother and I to have over five fat rolls each, round, fluffy arms, and the big faces that is so desired by the society we live in. I want those brown eyes reflected in the mirror to finally fill with warmth, brightness, and acceptance for what they see on the other side. I want to be the one that all the girls will be friends with and all the boys will chase after. I want to be the one who fits in. I want to be fat.

“Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.” – Dan Brown


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